Changes in grief and mental health of bereaved spouses of older suicides.

Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center, Division of Family Services of Los Angeles.
Journal of Gerontology 12/1992; 47(6):P357-66. DOI: 10.1093/geronj/47.6.P357
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Comparisons are made of the impact of a suicide death on the surviving spouse (55 years and older) with that of a natural death on spouse survivors and a married nonbereaved control group over a bereavement period of 2 1/2 years after death. Regardless of mode of death, the loss of a loved one is a difficult psychological trauma, accompanied by depression, confusion, and pervasive feelings of emptiness. Few differences in the impact of the deaths in the early months of bereavement were reported, but changes appeared over the course of the 2 1/2-year measurement period. Compared with natural death survivors, the process of bereavement was found to be more difficult for the survivors of a suicide death, whose severe depressive feelings do not seem to lessen significantly and whose feelings of mental health do not seem to improve until after the first year. Women, in general, report greater feelings than men of anxiety, tension, and apprehension, especially within the first 6 months. By the end of the observation period, most of the differences between the two bereaved groups have disappeared, and both report functioning adequately despite continuing feelings of sadness and loss.

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